OTs don’t always determine best team

Published 12:00 pm Monday, October 19, 2009

Last week’s Thorsby-Isabella game was my first taste of overtime in a high school football game, believe it or not.

It took almost three full seasons.

The two teams played to a 24-all tie at the end of regulation, and the Alabama High School Athletic Association requires use of the “10-Yard Line Overtime Procedure” as outlined in the National Federation football rules book.

Basically, the format is similar to what is used in college football games except that possessions begin at the 10-yard line in high school instead of the 25.

These formats stand in contrast to the sudden-death period the NFL employs. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages.

NFL overtimes overwhelmingly favor the team that wins the coin toss. The team that gets the first possession usually marches down the field and scores. Game over.

The college and high school overtime would seem to be much more fair, then, because both teams have an equal opportunity. But if overtime’s purpose, just like the game itself, is to decide the best football team—really, the whole team—then it’s hard to swallow the fact that kickoffs and punts are absent in the format and that a team doesn’t even have to earn a first down to be able to score.

So, the only fair football overtime would be one that resembles an actual period of play, maybe just not as long.

Or, here’s another idea: Don’t have overtimes. If a game ends in a tie, well then the teams tied.

As much as I enjoyed the Thorsby-Isabella game, this would have been the outcome I would have chosen. Neither team deserved to lose, but Isabella did lose when an attempted 2-point conversion that would have tied the game again came up inches short.

Of course, some sort of tiebreaking procedure would be needed for playoff games. Maybe consider a tie a loss so neither team could advance to the next round. If a championship game ended in a tie, then we would have a real dilemma.

I think a tie is an acceptable outcome for a football game, but there might be a few Thorsby players, coaches and fans that would disagree with me.